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comprehends a variety of other subjects 5 as a description of the kingdom of the Mercians *, the lives of saint Etheldred and saint Sexburgh ', the foundation of the city of Chester 2,
and a chronicle of our kings '.
It is collected from Bede,
Alfred of Beverly, Malmesbury, Girardus Cambrensis, Higden's Polychronicon, and the pasiionaries of the female saints, Werburgh, Etheldred, and Sexburgh, which were kept for public edification in the choir of the church of our poet's
1 Lib. i. cap. iii.
7 Lib. ii. cap. xv. The fashion os writing metrical Cbrom'du q/'tbe king: qu'g[and 1grew very fashionable in this century. See upr. vol. i. p. 92. Many of these are evidently composed for the harp: but they are mostly mere genealogical deductions. Hearne has printed, from the Heralds office, a PETBGREE of our kings, from William the conqueror to Henry the sixth, written in 1448. [APPENDlX to Rob. Gloucestr. vol. ii. p. 585. see p. 588.] This is a specimen.
Then regnyd Harry nou ht full wyse,
The son of Mold Mans the emperyse.
In hys tyme then eynt homas
At Caunterbury marteryd was.
He held Rosomund the sheen,
Gret sorwe hit was for the queen :
At Wodestoke for hure he made a toure,
That is called Roszmovnozs BOURE.
And sithen regnyd his sone Richerd,
A man that was never aferd :
He werred ofte tyme and wyse
Worthin upon goddis enemyse.
And sithen hesiwas shoten, alas!
Atte castle Gailard there he was.
Atte Fontc Evcrardc he lithe there:
He regnyd almost two yere
In johne is tyme, as rly understonde,
Was entredyted alle ngelonde;
He was fulle wrothe and grym,
For prestus would nought synge before
Lydgate has left the best chronicle of the
kmd, and most approaching to poetry. The
rtg'zynge as kyngy: after tbe conquest by 'be
monk of Bury. MSS. Fairf. Bibl. Bodl.
'6. [And MSS. Ashmol. 59. ii. MSS. Vol. 11.
Harl. 22 51. 3. And a beautiful copy, with
ictures ofthe kings, MSS. Cotton.juuus. E. 5.] Never printed. [Unless printed by Wynkyn de Worde, 1530. 4to. '4 This " myghty Wyllyam duke of Normandy."] This is one of the stanzas. [See MSS. Bodl. B. 3. '999. 6.]
Rychard the next by successyon,
Was crouned kynge. called Cur de lyon,
His hert buryed in Roon, atte highe autere.
Compare MSS. Harl. 372. 5. There was partly a political view in these deductions : to ascertain the right of our kings to the crowns of France, Casiile, Leon, and the dutchy of Normandy. See MSS. Harl. 326.2.-116. 11. sol. 142. I know not whether it be worth observing, that about this time a practice prevailed of constructin long parchment-rous in Latin, of the Pe igree of our kings. Of this kind is the Pedigrre as Britisiy king: from Adam la Henry lbesixll', written about the year l4zo, by Roger Alban, a Carmelite friar of London. It begins, " Considerans chronico" rum prolixitatem." The original copy, presented to Henry the sixth by the compiler, is now in (De-en's college library at Oxford. MSS. [22.] B. . 3. There are two copies in Winchester college library, and another in the Bodleian. Among bishop More's manuscripts, there is a parchment-roll of the Pedigree os our kin s from Ethclred to Henry the fourth, m French, with pictures of the several mo
A a. narchs. narchs. MSS. 495. And, in the same collection, .a Pedigrce from Harold to Henry the fourth, with elegant illuminations. MSS. 479. In the same ra e of genealo ifing, Alban abovementioned med the Igescent of Jesus Christ, from Adam through the Levitical and regal tribes, the jewish patriarchs, judges, kings, pro hets, and priests. The original roll, as it eems, on vellum, beautifully illuminated, is in MSS. More, ut supr. 495. But this was partly copied from Peter of Poictou, adifciple of Lombard about the year 1170, who, for the benefit of the poorer cler , was the first that found out the method o forming, and reducing into parchment-rolls, H rsTORICAL Tnaes of the old testament. Alberic. in Chron. p. 441. See MSS. Denh. 1627. l. Rot. rnembr.
concerned with three saints, he deals more in plain facts than in the fictions of religious romance; and, on the whole, his performance is rather historical than legendary. This is remarkable, in an age, when it was the fashion to turn history into legend '. His fabulous origin of Chester is not so much to be imputed to. his own want of veracity, as to the authority of his voucher Ranulph Higden, a celebrated chronicler, his countryman, and a monk of his own abbey 4. He supposes that Chester, called by the antient Britons CAIR
As to Bradshaw's history of the foundation of Chester, it may be classed with the FOUNDATION or 'rue ABBEY or GLovcesrea, a poem of twenty-two stanzas, written in the year 1534., by the last abbot William Malverne, printed by Heame, Ubi supr. p. 378. This piece is mentioned by Harpssield, Hisr. Eccuzs. ANGL. p. 264. Princip. " In sundrie " fayer volumes of antiquitie." MSS. Harl. 539. 14. fol. 111.
b For as declareth the true Pusron ARY, A boke where her holie lyfe wrytten is, Which boke remayneth in Chester mo
Lib. i. e. vii. Signat. C ii. And again,
And in the Prologue, lib. i. Signat. A
Untoo this rude worke myne auctors these,
Fyrst the true Legends, and the venerable
Mayster Alfrydus, and Wyllyam Malmus
ury, Gyrard, Polychronicon, and other mo indeed.
® Even scripture-history was turned into romance. The story of Esther and Ahasuerus, or ofAMON or Human, and MAR* nocnrus or Mordemi, was formed into a fabulous poem. MS. Vernon, ut supr. fol. 213.
Of AMON and MARDOCHEUS.
In the British Museum, there is a long commentitioua narrative of the Cmm'on of Adam
LLaON, or the city of Legz'om, was founded by Leon Gaur, a giant, corrupted from LEON VAUR, or the great Iegion.
The founder of this citie, as sayth Polychronicon,
He adds, with an equal attention to etymology:
But kinge Leir a Britan fine and valiaunt,
But a greater degree of' credulity would perhaps have afforded him a better claim to the character of a poet: and, at least, we should have conceived a more advantageous opinion of his imagination, had he been less frugal of those traditionary fables, in which ignorance and superstition had cloathed every part of his argument. This piece was first printed by Pinson in the year I 521. " Here begynneth the " holy lyfe of SAYNT WERBURGE, very frutefull for all " cristen people to rede '." He traces the genealogy of saint Werburg with much historical accuracy *.
xi. 8. Bibl. Bodl. And again we have, ' In octavo. With a wooden cut of the
RANULPHI Casrkwus '* ar: tampa- Saint. Princip. " When Phebus had ronne
" m'm'i firmonel." MSS. Bodl. sup. N. z. " his cours in Sagittari." At the begin
Art. IO- And in many other places. nin is an English copy of verses, by j. T. By the way, if it be true that these And at the end two others.
Mrs-remes were composed in the year 1328, and there was so much difficulty in obtaining the pope's permiffion that they might bespresentcd in English, a presumptive proo arises, 'that all our MYSTERIBS before that period were in Latin. These
lays will therefore have the merit of being the first English interludes.
' Lib. ii. c.
t AdesZ-'jypgvonqftbegeanalogjq/'SAYNT WERBURGE, &Ft.
This noble prynces, the daughter of Syon,
The floure of vertu, and vyrgyn gloryous,
Blessed saynt Werburge, full of devocyon,
Descended by auncetry, and tytle famous,
Of foure myghty kynges, noble and vyctOryous,
Reyn yn ge
The most splendid passage of this poem, is the following description of the feast made by king Ulpher in the hall of the abbey of Ely, when his daughter VVerburgh was admitted to the veil in that monastery. Among other curious anecdotes of antient manners, the subjects of the tapestry, with which the hall was hung, and of the songs sung by the minstrels, on this solemn occasion, are given at large h.
Her uncles and auntes, were present there all.
Thre blessed kynges, whome fayntes we 'do call
Saint Keneswyd, faint Keneburg, their sisters both two
Were redy that season, with reverence and honour
At this noble tryumphe, to do all theyr devour.